History of the Paralympic Movement

Did you know the father of the Paralympics was a neurologist who believed sports were essential to the recovery of people with spinal cord injuries? Sir Ludwing Guttmann held the first competition for wheelchair athletes at the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948. Most of the athletes were former military men who suffered injuries while serving.

The idea inspired the first modern Paralympic Games which was held in Rome in 1960. A total of 400 athletes from 23 countries around the world competed in eight sports during that first Paralympics. Since then, the Summer Games have grown to include 22 sports and over 4,000 athletes.

The first Winter Paralympic Games took place in 1976 in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Only two events were contested: alpine skiing and cross-country skiing. Just 53 athletes competed in the 1976 Games but today over 500 athletes representing over 45 global delegations compete in each Winter Paralympic Games. 

Just like the Olympics, the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games are held once every four years. While the Paralympics may still be growing, they have quickly become one of the most popular and inspiring sporting events in the world.